– Transit union rejects bid to put end to strikes, lockouts

Ottawa Citizen

Secretary-treasurer chalks up results to a fear of arbitration

A bid to end crippling strikes or lockouts at OC Transpo was voted down on Friday by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279.

The vote was 62.8 per cent in favour of maintaining the strike/lockout model instead of arbitration.

Jim Haddad, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 279 secretary-treasurer, said he was very disappointed.

“They’re afraid of what the arbitrator will decide. It’s the unknown,” he said.

“Hopefully, the next time the two sides are at the table they will negotiate and get a contract.”

Last May, city council and the union executive reached a deal that if normal contract negotiations fail, outstanding matters would automatically go to binding arbitration.

The move came after a 53-day strike last December and January that left riders stranded, damaged businesses and social agencies, and saw labour relations between the city and the 2,300-strong ATU Local 279 deteriorate.

“We remain committed to the principles of collective bargaining and will continue to work together to find solutions that are in the best interests of management, ATU members, transit riders and the taxpayers of the City of Ottawa,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien in a press release.

“We have successfully negotiated many agreements without resorting to strike or lockout and I am confident that we can resolve our future differences at the negotiating table.”

Shortly after the strike, council voted to support arbitration as an alternative to strike/lockout, upon ratification of ATU 279’s collective agreement.

The most recent contract negotiations, which resulted in the strike, will be resolved through binding arbitration.

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